Oslo & a sense of community vs. me

Travel is a big eye-opener.

It’s a lifesaver too.

If we sit in one place too long, just like jelly in a mould we congeal and harden. We get to thinking that the world we see out of our window is all there is to see. This is the way things are. This is the way things have to be.

Of course that’s not true and at some level, we know it. But it takes something like a trip abroad to jolt us out of our purple haze.

My recent weekend in Oslo did just that. It not only was great fun, but it reconfirmed the world does not revolve around Oxford. Indeed, it got me thinking again that life might be a whole lot more interesting someplace else.

During an hour spent dawdling over a beer in an outdoor café, I watched a variety of people stroll by. Although their manner and dress wasn’t drastically different from that found on the streets of Oxford, there was something as fresh about them as the breeze off the fjord. Perhaps it was the way they regarded their companions – not as recipients of their own wisdom, but as individuals in their own right with something worthwhile to say.

This got me thinking about the way life used to be here (in both the US and the UK) even just twenty years ago. In those bad old days, while strolling the city streets, we used actually converse directly with our friends & acquaintances rather than remotely via a shiny gadget glued to our ear. What we took away from such personal interchange was much more than just  information. It was a sense of belonging to a community – i.e. something bigger – and perhaps even more important – than me!

This then got me thinking (and I bet I’m not the only one), that while progress may be necessary (and perhaps even welcome), it does have its drawbacks. Yet when like flies caught in a spider’s web, we’re enmeshed in the thick of it, that’s pretty hard to see.

The solution?  Peel yourself out of your mould and take a trip abroad. The open your ears and eyes and enjoy.

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